Nelson Mandela: South Africa declares week of mourning

South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of mourning for Nelson Mandela that will include several services, ending with burial in the anti-apartheid icon's ancestral home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, on Dec. 15.

U.S. President Barack Obama will go to South Africa next week to pay respects to Mandela

Johannesburg mourns Mandela

The National

7 years ago
South Africans had been preparing for this moment for years, but that didn't make the loss of Nelson Mandela any less emotional 5:13


  • All living former prime ministers invited to join Canada's delegation
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and wife will go to South Africa

South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of mourning for Nelson Mandela that will include several services, ending with burial in the anti-apartheid icon's ancestral home of Qunu, a small village in the Eastern Cape, on Dec. 15.

A memorial service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will be held Tuesday.

Watch live coverage here

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invited all the living former prime ministers to be part of Canada's delegation to South Africa.

The delegation will attend the memorial in Johannesburg.

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week to pay respects to Mandela, the White House said Friday. The announcement didn't say which day they would be there. 

In remarks after Mandela's death, Obama counted himself as one of the millions who had been inspired by the South African leader.

Zuma said Mandela's body will lie in state at government buildings in Pretoria, starting Wednesday, until the burial. This Sunday will be a national day of prayer and reflection.

Mandela, South Africa's founding president, was an "international icon who was a symbol of reconciliation … love, human rights and justice in our country and to the world," Zuma said.

"The outpouring of love … illustrates the calibre of leader that Madiba was …," Zuma said. "The week of mourning will also celebrate a life well lived."


Here is the South African schedule of arrangements for Nelson Mandela:

Sunday, Dec. 8: National day of prayer and reflection. "We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes for prayer services and meditation, reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world," President Jacob Zuma said, using Mandela's clan name.

Tuesday, Dec. 10: Official memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Mandela's last public appearance was at the same stadium in 2010 for the closing ceremony of the soccer World Cup.

Wednesday, Dec. 11 to Friday, Dec. 13: Mandela's body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions.

Sunday, Dec. 15: State funeral and burial at Qunu, Eastern Cape Province.

As flags were lowered to half-mast Friday, a day after Mandela's death, people across the country commemorated him with song, tears and prayers as the government announced funeral ceremonies that will draw leaders and other dignitaries from around the globe.

A black SUV-type vehicle containing Mandela's coffin, draped in South Africa's flag, pulled away from Mandela's home after midnight, escorted by military motorcycle outriders, to take the body to a military morgue in the capital of Pretoria.

Many South Africans heard the news of his death, which was announced on TV by Zuma just before midnight, upon waking Friday, and they flocked to his home in Johannesburg's leafy Houghton neighbourhood. One woman hugged her two sons over a floral tribute.

Amazed world

In a church service in Cape Town, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu said the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black president would want South Africans themselves to be his "memorial" by adhering to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied.

"All of us here in many ways amazed the world, a world that was expecting us to be devastated by a racial conflagration," Tutu said, recalling how Mandela helped unite South Africa as it dismantled apartheid, the cruel system of white rule, and prepared for all-race elections in 1994.

In closing his prayer, Tutu said: "God, thank-you for the gift of Madiba."

Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, was a "very human person" with a sense of humour who took interest in people around him, said F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid-era president. The two men negotiated the end of apartheid, finding common cause in often tense circumstances, and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

In summarizing Mandela's legacy, de Klerk told eNCA television: "Never and never again should there be in South Africa the suppression of anyone by another."

Mourning to last over a week

Mourners also gathered outside Mandela's former home on Vilakazi Street in the city's black township of Soweto.

South Africa's banking association said banks will close on the day of Mandela's funeral. The government has yet to announce a detailed schedule for a mourning period that is expected to last more than a week.

The liberation struggle icon's grandson, Mandla Mandela, said he was strengthened by the knowledge that his grandfather was finally resting.

"All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family," Mandla Mandela said in a statement. "The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people."

He said the late statesman was the embodiment of strength, struggle and survival. As a grandfather Mandela would always be remembered as kind-hearted, generous and wise.

Belongs to 'entire world'

Mandla Mandela expressed gratitude for the national and international support his family had received during Mandela's long health problems.

His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him ... It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name- Zelda la Grange, Mandela's personal assistant

"We in the family recognize that Madiba belongs not only to us but to the entire world. The messages we have received since last night have heartened and overwhelmed us."

Zelda la Grange, Mandela's personal assistant for almost two decades, said the elder statesman inspired people to forgive, reconcile, care, be selfless, tolerant and to maintain dignity no matter what the circumstances.

"His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him, the books, the images, the movies. It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name, the respect and love, the unity he inspired in us as a country, but particularly how we relate to one another," she said in a statement.

Helen Zille, leader of the country's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, and premier of the Western Cape, the only province not controlled by the ANC, commented: "We all belong to the South African family — and we owe that sense of belonging to Madiba. That is his legacy. It is why there is an unparalleled outpouring of national grief at his passing. It is commensurate with the contribution he made to our country.

With files from CBC News, Reuters


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